Political furor abruptly arises over Greek PM's unannounced yacht vacation in Aug. 2018; weeks after deadly wildfire

Tuesday, 07 May 2019 09:57
George Vitsaras / SOOC/George Vitsaras
A- A A+

The latest political furor swirling around the beleaguered Tsipras government, with European Parliament elections at the end of the month, emerged early Monday morning, after a well-known local news radio host Tweeted two photographs of the Greek prime minister himself aboard a luxury yacht.

The timing of Tsipras' sea vacation, coming a couple of weeks after a devastating wildfire ultimately killed 100 people over the course of half a day at a seaside settlement 30 kilometers east of Athens (Mati), and the fact that it was not announced at the time, generated most of the opprobrium. The cruise, in the Ionian Sea off western mainland Greece, also reportedly coincided with Tsipras' high-profile appearance on the isle of Ithaka to declare, live on state television, the end of the memorandum era.

Additionally, much of the political opposition touched on the fact that Tsipras represents Greece's hard left, which rode to power in January 2015 on a thunderous platform of anti-bailout, anti-austerity and anti-capitalist rhetoric.

Undeterred, Tsipras was scathing of the opposition, especially poll-leading main opposition New Democracy (ND) party and his main political rival, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, during a campaign rally in the northeast Greece city of Xanthi later in the evening, but avoided any mention of the furor. At the rally, he again phrased the dilemma of "people vs. the elite", charging that his rivals represent the latter and that his party is with the masses.

"We offer him (Tsipras) up for the ridicule of the Greek people," was the response by ND.

The Greek premier's week-long family cruise was confirmed in the afternoon by the vessel's owner, Katerina Panagopoulou, the widow of late shipowner and businessman Pericles Panagopoulos, the founder of Attica Group and one of the most respected executives in Greece's high-powered shipping sector for decades.

Panagopoulou, who serves as an unsalaried general secretary for Greek diaspora issues in Tsipras' office, said her late husband suggested the holiday to Tsipras, whom she said appeared "fatigued" in August 2018.

She also blamed "vested interests" linked with media groups for targeting Tsipras over the specific yacht holiday.

Skai radio host and journalist Aris Portosalte posted two photographs of Tsipras on the Bermuda-flagged 34-meter "Odyssey (London)", a year after another well-known newspaper columnist more-or-less described the undeclared vacation, sans the photographs.

Προτεινόμενα για εσάς